SunTrust to sell 30 branches in boost to BB&T merger

SunTrust and BB&T won Justice Department approval this week by agreeing to sell 28 branches. Two of the branches are in Georgia.

For Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks to merge with BB&T, the companies must sell more than two dozen branches holding $2.4 billion in deposits.

Regulators overseeing the pending merger say the divestiture will be the largest of its kind in more than a decade. First Horizon will pay roughly $81 million to acquire 30 bank branches early next year, according to statements from the banks on Friday. Twenty-eight were required by the Justice Department.

The Georgia branches being sold are in Jesup and Dahlonega. The rest are divided between North Carolina and Virginia.

The Justice Department is charged with making sure that consumers are not hurt when large companies combine. With the banks agreeing to divest the branches, the Justice Department approved the deal.

"Banks and the financial sector are at the heart of our economy," said Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. "Today's settlement ensures that banking customers across Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia will continue to have access to competitively priced banking products, including loans to small businesses."

The proposed merger is still subject to the approval of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve, as well as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Officials said they were pleased that the agreement greased the skids for SunTrust and BB&T to consolidate by the end of this year.

"This announcement marks another significant and required step toward the merger of equals between BB&T and SunTrust," Kelly King, chairman and chief executive of Winston-Salem-based BB&T, in said a written statement.

The combined banks will be based in Charlotte and will be named Truist Financial Corp.

For the time being, branches that are not being divested will keep their current branding – either BB&T or SunTrust. The name on consumers' checks, credit cards and debit cards also will not change right away.

First Horizon officials said they see the acquisition as a quick way to pump up the bank’s presence in some key markets.

“First Horizon is excited to welcome new employees and customers to our family,” said Bryan Jordan, First Horizon’s chairman and CEO.

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